Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS, by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, gets a starred review in Booklist

In his Booklist starred review of A DRAGON’S GUIDE TO THE CARE AND FEEDING OF HUMANS (Crown/Random House) by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder, John Peters asserts "this opener for a planned series" will "draw readers and leave them impatient for sequels." But here, you can read the whole review for yourself:

And don’t forget, Joanne Ryder is available for school visits so she can speak to your middle grade humans! For details, contact Balkin Buddies.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An historic moment: An uncensored version of Johanna Reiss's THE UPSTAIRS ROOM is now available in Germany

Johanna Reiss, author of the 1973 Newbery Honor book, THE UPSTAIRS ROOM, recently went to Germany to help promote the new, authentic, uncensored and complete translation of the book, in German titled UND IM FENSTER DER HIMMEL. For 40 years, German readers were offered only a censored version. That has now finally been rectified.

For those of you who speak German, here is a short video of a presentation Johanna gave to a large group of German school children and also includes a brief interview with her.

And if you'd like to have Johanna come to your school to speak to your own students about her experiences, just contact Balkin Buddies

Emily Arnold McCully's 3, 2, 1, GO! gets a starred review in Kirkus

Kirkus calls 3, 2, 1, GO! (Holiday House) written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully "a sure hit" in their starred review:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Margie Palatini's UNDER THE PIG TREE gets a starred review in Booklist

The pigs "are the star of the show" when UNDER THE PIG TREE (Abrams) by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Chuck Groenink gets this starred review in Booklist:

“Don't let the friendly pig on the cover set you astray; this book is definitely not about pigs. Pigs absolutely weren't "presented as ‘medals' to the winners of the first Olympics in 776 BC," and, although they like a summer day as much as the next swine, they don't "thrive in a full day of sun." Furious red pencil scrawls from the author explain the minor typographical error: "Figs, people. These are facts about FIGS!" It's a small gag, but Palatini and Groenink carry it to uproarious heights. Groenink's illustrations mimic historical art styles while retaining a comically cartoonish quality, and his pigs—so many happy, darling piggies!—are the star of the show. Check out the warm, pastoral scene where a couple on a picnic picks a soft piggy from a low-hanging branch. A recipe for "pig, feta, and arugula pizza" shows a pig cheerily sitting atop a circle of dough. Even little ones who can't quite grasp the spelling error at the heart of the joke will still be tickled by the absurdity of the pictures and the escalating over-the-top cross-outs, angry doodles, and all-caps exclamations of "DOWN WITH PIGS." Kiddos will go hog wild for this farcical romp.”

If you would like Margie to come to your school to present to your students, just contact us at Balkin Buddies and we’ll be glad to help.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books' starred review of Neal Shusterman's EDISON'S ALLEY

We can't believe we missed seeing another of Neal Shusterman's books starred in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. This time it's for EDISON'S ALLEY (Disney/Hyperion), the second book in the Accelerati trilogy, which Neal co-wrote with Eric Elfman. Here's the review:

The good news is that Earth was not obliterated by the unfortunate space debris/baseball bat incident in Book One, TESLA'S ATTIC (BCCB 2/13); the bad news is that the space debris now known as Felicity Bonk is creating a massive electrical generator as it circles the Earth, a boon only to the mad scientist Accelerati who hope to harness it to rule the world. Standing in the way of world domination, however, are Nick and his middle-school cohort, who are scrambling to collect the scattered bits of Tesla's magnificent free-energy-emitting gizmo, which must be key to keeping Felicity Bonk under control. Tweens and teens who have embarked on the Accelerati trilogy already know why they've entered a sci-fi funhouse in the finest tradition of Eoin Colfer, with searingly witty narration and a cast of white and black hats who command reader involvement. There's no second-book-slump here; in fact, characters develop in complexity without sacrificing the dark snark that sets the series tone. Petula is now a remorseless baddie; Caitlin is in love; Mitch has figured out that the Accelerati are responsible for his father's incarceration and is out for revenge; Vince vacillates between death and reanimation; Nick is spinning out of control in his obsession to make Tesla's machine work; and evil Alan Jorgenson is in trouble with his even more evil boss. Oh, yes, we learn who Jorgenson's boss is---and embedded in that revelation is the plot for Book Three. Might as well put in the pre-order now.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More reviews of April Henry’s BLOOD WILL TELL

Here are even more reviews BLOOD WILL TELL (Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano), the second book in April Henry's 'A Point Last Seen Mystery' series:

“Henry pens another solid mystery for teens in this follow-up to The Body in the Woods (2014). Still volunteers with Portland Search and Rescue, teens Nick, Ruby, and Alexis assist the police with an evidence search in a vacant lot where a woman’s body was found. Nick, longing to be a hero like his military father, is embarrassed when he almost faints at the crime scene, but this vulnerability doesn’t stop him from becoming a suspect when too much evidence, though circumstantial, implicates him. While the police upend Nick’s life, in the process divulging hard news about his father, Ruby and Alexis work to identify the real killer. Like a good crime procedural, the story moves easily between Nick’s personal story, the killer’s story, and the criminal investigation….HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Henry’s mysteries have taken her to the top of the New York Times best-seller list and are devoured by teens. Stock Up!”

A teenage sleuth becomes the prime suspect in a heinous murder case in Portland, Oregon.
Nick Walker isn't the most popular kid around, but he's felt at home working for the Portland Search and Rescue team. With crush Alexis and friend Ruby at his side, Nick has helped the police many times. When a woman's body is discovered six blocks from his apartment, Nick thinks nothing of jumping into action with his SAR team. But things quickly go south when circumstantial evidence places Nick at the scene of the murder and the police do a bit more digging. Soon Nick's world is turned upside down as secrets are revealed and friends become foes. The mystery moves along at a nice pace, mixing broad character strokes with chunks of investigative exposition, evoking the feel of a solid episode of Law and Order or C.S.I. [T]he slow burn leading up to this climax with the ground disappearing beneath Nick's feet is solid entertainment.

"When a woman’s body is found in a Portland park, suspicion falls on an awkward kid who lives only a hundred feet away, a teen who collects knives, loves first-person shooter video games, and obsessively doodles violent scenes in his school notebooks. Nick Walker goes from being a member of Portland’s Search and Rescue team to the prime suspect in a murder, his very interest in SAR seen as proof of his fascination with violence. How is this even possible? And can Alexis and Ruby find a way to help clear Nick's name before it's too late?

"April Henry weaves another page-turning, high stakes mystery in Book 2 of the Point Last Seen series.”

"...will satisfy faithful fans, who will anticipate the next installment in the series."


April is always happy to talk to her fans about her books. If schools would like to book her for Skype, iChat or Facetime, just contact Balkin Buddies.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books' starred review of Neal Shusterman's CHALLENGER DEEP

We can't believe we somehow missed seeing this starred review -- the sixth starred review -- of CHALLENGER DEEP (HarperTeen) by Neal Shusterman in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:

Caden Bosch is split between what he sees and what he believes to be true. On the one hand, he is a smart high school kid who has friends and gets good grades. On the other, he's aboard an outré ship whose mission is to explore Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. The tragedy is that while Caden knows his reality is fractured, he can't control what he believes, and that terrifies him; finally his parents have no recourse but to admit him to a psychiatric hospital. His shipmates, then, are the doctors, volunteers, and other teen patients in the ward, and while the adventure morphs into surreal images, their meanings surface in ironic bits of wit when he is at his most lucid; that is, when his meds are starting to work. The trial and error of getting the cocktail right, however, sends him more deeply into his delusion. Shusterman does a masterful job of warping Caden's reality into fantasies, subtly highlighting how seemingly random strands of dissociative thought connect to reality. For instance, Dr. Poirot with his colorful Hawaiian shirts easily transmogrifies into the parrot of Caden's crew, and his role there as mortal adversary of the captain signifies the intensity of the battle Caden's mind is waging within itself. Drawing on the experiences of his son (who provides loose-limbed sketches throughout), Shusterman spools out the trajectories of Caden's illness in ways consistent with the progression of schizoaffective disorder without pinning Caden down to a diagnosis, and he treats Caden's character with a loving compassion clearly born of strong empathic understanding. The intensity of living inside Caden's mind makes this a wrenching read, particularly at those moments when he is clear enough to articulate the fragile, tenuous borders of his inner landscape; it is a work that engenders respect for those fighting to stay afloat on choppy mental seas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Win an ARC of Alex Flinn's new book, MIRRORED, which received a 4-star review on GoodReads

MIRRORED, by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen), which comes out in September 2015, received over 4 stars on GoodReads, which is sponsoring a giveaway for some lucky fans to receive Advanced Reading Copies. Visit GoodReads for details:

Go here to enter. And if you're interested in having Alex come to your school to speak to your students, be sure to visit Balkin Buddies for details and contact information.